How to Read Crochet Patterns Step By Step Guide For Beginners
Updated: March 21, 2020
Crochet refers to the use of yarn which is creatively made up into an actual textured fabric using a hooked needle with a blunt edge called a crochet hook.
Crochet is often mistaken by armatures for a knitting technique. While both use yarn, the technique is different.
As a beginner, the main distinction you will be able to make is that knitting has rows of stitches being worked on at the same time while crocheting has got one stitch being worked on at a time.
So, a more professional definition to a layman would be:
Knitting involves working several ‘live’ stitches in a row using knitting needles while crocheting involves working one ‘live’ stitch at a time using a single crocheting needle.
With that out of the way let’s focus on crocheting.
The basic technique involves creating fabric using a yarn which is creatively interlocked using different patterns.
Before you learn the patterns let’s look at the terminology, you will come across throughout your crocheting venture.
SC – single crochet
DC – double/ dual crochet
TC – triple crochet
SL ST – slip stitch
HDC – half double crochet
FL- front loop
BL- back loop
SP - space
INC – increase
DEC – decrease
REP – repeat
YO - yarn over
RS - right side
WS - wrong side
JOIN - connect two stitches
TURN – crochet in the opposite direction by turning the item around
POST – the center of the stitch
If you look at the top of the stitches, you are making even using the simplest of stitches like the chain stitch you will see the resemblance of a road with a pavement on either side.
The ‘road’ is the post. the pavement facing you as you at that moment is the ‘front of the post’ while the one facing away is the ‘back of the post.’
How will you read and understand the different patterns?
The best way is to get an illustrated guide that used images or video to illustrate the different patterns. There are various such guides on the internet. You can also buy such instructions from the local bookshop.
The best way, however, is to get a personal tutor who is conversant with the different patterns and stitches and can effectively communicate the same.
After or as you learn the terminologies it is essential to no familiarize yourself with the different stitches as it is these that make up the different patterns, some of which we are going to explore.
This is the simplest of them, and the instructions are:
Note that everyone develops their own unique way of pulling the stitches after the initial induction.
After mastering the chain stitch, you can now learn the other kinds of stitches which are essential to make some of the crochet patterns.
Reading The Patterns
Note that particular patterns are only suitable to make certain items for example table mats.
The patterns will be illustrated using the abbreviations listed above or both the abbreviation and term, for example, ‘ch-chain’ or just plain ‘ch.’
It is this variety of stitches combined in a particular order and sequence that form the different patterns.
The directions will include how many of one type of stitch to make before switching to another which will also have the same directions.
It will also indicate what size of crochet needle you will require to give the required gauge for the particular item you are making.
Different items have different gauges recommended although any gauge could generally make anything; it just might look misplaced or weird.
A simple example of one such direction is:
Another similar example
An easy way to master the flow of certain patterns is to sample your own. Make your own random patterns, see what they turn out like then you will be able to understand better how to follow other’s patterns.
Note that any pattern you come across was made by someone just messing around like you are.
You will be surprised that you actually might come up with a pattern of your own!
Combination Of Terms
The illustration above is a very short sample of the infinite possibility of pattern formations. It is actually part of a pattern.
There is a more complicated combination of terms used to make more complicated designs. Such directions give more than just one action to be taken at a time.
An example of one such direction is:
Another example is
Before you take on a pattern there are some considerations to make:
Is the pattern within your general scope of experience?
How confident are you with the technique? How complicated is it? How often will you have to refer back to the pattern?
Anyone given enough time can hack any pattern though it will be easy to tell a professional’s work from that of an armature by noticing certain inconsistencies. Take on a pattern you can confidently handle.
Patterns are generally classified into beginner, intermediate and professional.
For a beginner especially, it is advisable to start with patterns within that classification and then progressively advance to more sophisticated patterns.
Learn the basics like the terms and start with simple stitches. A person with real interest will learn the art in no time. Crochet patterns are not rocket science and can be mastered by anyone.